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Judgment Year: Aaron Judge on Pace for Greatest Rookie Season Ever

Updated on July 12, 2017
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The All-Star break is upon us, the nominal halfway point of the season (although all teams have already played more than half their games.) One of the biggest stories of the first half, of course, is the rookie season of Aaron Judge.

Heading into the All-Star Game, Judge is leading all of baseball with 30 homers, on base percentage at .448, slugging at .691, and OPS at 1.139. He is second in runs at 75 (one behind George Springer) and second in the American League in RBIs at 66 (four behind Nelson Cruz). He is batting .329, third best in the AL, and has 99 hits, ninth in the AL. He leads the AL in walks with 61. Perhaps as impressive as any stat is that when he makes contact, his batting average is .516, which pretty much negates the fact that he’s also struck out 109 times.

Already Among the Elite

So just how good is his season? Well, if he stopped right now, his homer, RBI, and run totals already make this one of the 23 best rookie seasons ever. Only 22 other rookies have ever had 30-plus homers, 75-plus runs, and 66-plus RBIs. And they all did that over a full season.

Rookies with at least 30 HR, 75 R, 66 RBI

Player
Year
HR
R
RBI
G
Mark McGwire, A's
1987
49
97
118
151
Frank Robinson, Reds.
1956
38
122
83
152
Wally Berger, Braves
1930
38
98
119
151
Albert Pujols, Cards
2001
37
112
130
161
Al Rosen, Indians
1950
37
100
116
155
Jose Abreu, White Sox
2014
36
80
107
145
Mike Piazza, Dodgers
1993
35
81
112
149
Ron Kittle, White Sox
1983
35
75
100
145
Hal Trosky, Indians
1934
35
117
142
154
Ryan Braun, Brewers
2007
34
91
97
113
Walt Dropo, Red Sox
1950
34
101
144
136
Jose Canseco, A's
1986
33
85
117
157
Jimmie Hall, Twins
1963
33
88
80
156
Chris Young, Diamondbacks
2007
32
85
68
148
Tony Oliva, Twins
1964
32
109
94
161
Tim Salmon, Angels
1993
31
93
95
142
Ted Williams, Red Sox
1939
31
131
145
149
Aaron Judge, Yankees
2017
30
75
66
84
Mike Trout, Angels
2012
30
129
83
139
Nomar Garciaparra, Red Sox
1997
30
122
98
153
Pete Incaviglia, Rangers
1986
30
82
88
153
Willie Montanez, Phillies
1971
30
78
99
158
Bob Allison, Senators
1959
30
83
85
149
Players who have hit 30-plus homers, with 75-plus runs and 66-plus RBIs, with number of game it took to accomplish it.

Add in his walks, and you’ll find only 10 other rookies have ever had at least 30, 75, 66, and 61. Only one other of those players has hit as high as .329 while doing that (Albert Pujols).

Rookies with at least 30 HR, 75 R, 66 RBI, 61 BB

Player
Year
HR
R
RBI
BB
Ted Williams, Red Sox
1939
31
131
145
107
Al Rosen, Indians
1950
37
100
116
100
Tim Salmon, Angels
1993
31
93
95
82
Mark McGwire, A's
1987
49
97
118
71
Albert Pujols, Cards
2001
37
112
130
69
Mike Trout, Angels
2012
30
129
83
67
Willie Montanez, Phillies
1971
30
78
99
67
Jose Canseco, A's
1986
33
85
117
65
Frank Robinson, Reds
1956
38
122
83
64
Jimmie Hall, Twins
1963
33
88
80
63
Aaron Judge, Yankees
2017
30
75
66
61
Rookies who had 30-plus homers, 75-plus runs, 66-plus RBIs and 61-plus walks.

One of the Best Seasons Ever?

What happens if Judge continues at the same pace the rest of the season? Something pretty awesome. He played in 84 of the Yankees first 86 games. The team has 76 games remaining, so say he plays in 74 of those. At the same pace he’s currently playing at, he’ll wind up with this incredible stat line:

143 runs, 56 homers, 124 RBIs, 115 walks, .328 BA, .447 OBP, .684 slugging, 1.131 OPS.

That would qualify as one of the six best stat lines of all time, rookie or veteran (move his batting average up one tick to .329 and it’s one of the top five).

Could Judge Join This Elite Group?

Players
Year
HR
R
RBI
BA
Sammy Sosa, Cubs
2001
64
146
160
.328
Babe Ruth, Yankees
1927
60
158
165
.356
Babe Ruth, Yankees
1921
59
177
168
.378
Jimmie Foxx, A's
1932
58
151
169
.364
Hack Wilson, Cubs
1930
56
146
191
.356
The only players ever to hit 56-plus homers, with 143-plus runs, 124-plus RBIs and .328 or better batting average.

Even if Judge Slumps, Could Still be Best Rookie Season Ever

While Yankee fans would obviously love to see that season become reality, the truth is that Judge probably won’t keep that up. Many players, and especially rookies, have second half slumps. So let’s take a look to see what would happen if Judge doesn’t quite live up to the first half. Obviously, all numbers I’m using are conjecture, but have a basis on what he did the first half with a corresponding decrease in production.

Suppose he slumps to hit only .275 after the All-Star break, a decrease of 54 percentage points. Correspondingly, he hits only 20 more homers, scores just 50 more runs, and has just 45 more RBIs. Since he’s slumping he drops in walks as well to 48. Where does that leave him?

His final season line will be .303, 125 runs, 111 RBIs, 109 walks, .418 OBP, .614 slugging, 1.032 OPS. That would be the best season ever by a rookie (even disregarding homers, it would be the third best behind Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio).

OK, so let’s assume he really slumps. Let’s say he hits only .250 after the break. He hits just 15 more homers, scores 45 more runs with 40 more RBIs, and walks only 42 more times. Quite a drop off from the first half. Where does that leave him for the season?

His final line would show a .291 batting average, with 45 homers, 120 runs, 106 RBIs and 103 walks, .402 OBP, .573 slugging and a .975 OPS. Still results in the best rookie season ever (take out homers and it’s still third best behind Williams and DiMaggio).

In other words, even if Judge performs rather poorly after the All-Star break, he is still going to have the best rookie season ever. Only if he collapses completely to the point they’ll have to send him back to the minors will he not have the best rookie season ever. Then it probably would only be in the top 5.

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    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 2 months ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Baseball definitely needs a super duper star. So I hope he keeps it up. And I can hardly wait for next year and this Japanese Babe Ruth fella :) Not that I'm in a hurry for this year to be over.